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Written Answers

Volume 712: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

Written Answers

Monday 29 June 2009

Agriculture: Sheep

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the purpose of the European Regulations ((EC) 999/2001) requiring the removal of the spinal cords of sheep, in light of the estimate from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee that “the prevalence of BSE in the United Kingdom sheep flock may be zero and in the worse case no more than 10 flocks would be affected”; and what assessment they have made of the continuing impact of those regulations on the sheep farming industry. [HL4322]

Under directly-applicable EC law, specified risk material (SRM) controls apply to sheep on a precautionary basis. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has also advised that the maintenance of current risk reduction measures such as the removal of SRM would minimise the risk to human health should bovine spongiform encephalopathy enter the sheep flock. In addition, a possible human health risk from atypical scrapie cannot be ruled out, so for these reasons precautionary controls in sheep remain in place.

The Food Standards Agency advises that, at a meeting with the sheep farming industry in February 2009 to discuss the impact of these regulations, the industry undertook to produce an economic impact assessment of the regulations, the results of which are awaited.

Arms Reduction

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will discuss proposals for multilateral arms reductions among near-east countries, including Israel, at the next meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers. [HL4321]

There was no discussion of multilateral arms reductions in the Middle East during the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 15 June 2009, although Ministers did discuss the Middle East peace process. The Written Ministerial Statement on the 15 June 2009 GAERC was published on 22 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WS 97).

The UK supports a Middle East zone free from weapons of mass destruction and we have consistently supported resolutions calling for such a zone.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their decision in August 2007 to withdraw asylum seekers' rights to English language training for the first six months in the United Kingdom, or until their claim for refugee status has been agreed, complies with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in respect of the right to education. [HL4271]

In making decisions about asylum seekers' eligibility for English language training, the Government carried out a race equality impact assessment (REIA) in early 2007. As a result of the full impact assessment, the Government decided that asylum seekers who had not received a decision on their application after six months, and also asylum seekers unable to leave the country for reasons beyond their control, would be eligible for English language training. The Government believe that the current policy is compliant with human rights legislation.

Autism

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 June (WA 7), whether, in view of the implications of the case of Henry Spiller for other children with autism, they will request from Essex County Council information on the procedures in place in the county for educationists making, confirming or overturning a diagnosis of autism. [HL4026]

This information has been requested from the special educational needs and children with additional needs division at Essex County Council. It states that educational psychologists employed by the county have discussions with medical colleagues about children who have been diagnosed or are suspected of being on the autistic spectrum but the county states that the diagnosis of autism is a matter for the medical profession.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families has received a complaint in relation to Essex County Council's failure to properly discharge its duties, which is being investigated.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have not proceeded with the commitment made by Ivan Lewis on 8 May 2008 to fund a research study led by Professor Gillian Baird on the transition to adult life by young people with autism. [HL4531]

This Government are fulfilling the commitment to undertake transition research for young people with autism.

The department will extend a current study about multi-agency transition services to provide a greater focus about what support multi-agency services provide for all young people with autism.

The department will make further details about this available later this year. Further information about the current study can be found at: http://tcru.ioe.ac.uk/nsf/Default.aspx?tabid=340.

Charity Commission

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Patel of Bradford on 2 June (WS 66–7), whether the Charity Commission considers it in the interests of ensuring effective governance for a charity not to give notice of an election meeting to members entitled to attend were the evidence to suggest that the failure to give notice was or might have been motivated by the purpose of excluding votes. [HL4407]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Patel of Bradford on 2 June (WS 66–7), what action the Charity Commission would take, in the interests of ensuring effective governance of a charity, were evidence available to show that members entitled to attend an election meeting were not given notice of the meeting. [HL4408]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Patel of Bradford on 2 June (WS 66–7), what approach the Charity Commission takes to reviewing any of its decisions which may be affected by an error of fact or law; and to whom such decisions may be referred, other than the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or by an application for judicial review. [HL4409]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the commission to reply.

Letter from Andrew Hind, Chief Executive, Charity Commission, dated June 2009.

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Questions.

Parliamentary question (HL4407)

We recognise that there is scope for problems in membership charities if proper attention is not paid to their governance arrangements. For this reason we published a report on membership charities in March 2004, which provides best practice guidance. This includes information on the holding of elections and voting procedures. This is available from our website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk.

For the most part, the running of elections is the responsibility of the charity trustees. They must act in accordance with their governing document, charity law, and where appropriate, company law.

In our experience, a problem with voting at an election meeting is indicative of a wider dispute or disagreement in the charity. Only in very limited circumstances will the Commission become involved in such a dispute, usually where there are no validly appointed trustees. Instead, those involved should try and use all available methods to resolve the dispute themselves. Our website contains information to help them do this—“Conflicts in your Charity: a statement of approach by the Charity Commission”, and I will arrange for a copy of this to be placed in the Library of the House. For instance, where a more formal approach is required, professional mediation can be a quick and cost effective way to resolve a dispute.

We would only become involved if there were matters of serious concern and where it was necessary and proportionate for us to do so.

Parliamentary question (HL4408)

Whether we will take action in a case will depend upon the issues involved, the risks to the charity and whether our intervention is necessary and proportionate.

There may be legitimate reasons why notification of an election meeting has not been received. For instance, if the charity was not informed of a change of address or the person's membership had lapsed. However it may be indicative of a wider dispute or disagreement in the charity. In my response to a previous question (HL4407) I outlined the Commission's approach to disputes in membership charities and the sources of information available on our website.

In the first instance, the members should take the matter up with the trustees and ask why they were not sent notice of the meeting. If they do not receive a satisfactory answer then they could consider what further action to take. The charity may have a procedure for dealing with disputes or disagreements. The governing document may also indicate what options are open to them.

If we were made aware of the situation, then we would provide the trustees with advice and guidance to help them resolve the situation and ensure that the charity adhered to best practice. Our experience is that disputes in membership charities are best resolved by the members themselves rather than by any direct intervention from us.

Parliamentary question (HL4409)

We take a lot of trouble to make sure that, in making decisions, we get them right first time. However, we do recognise that from time to time a customer may consider that we have not taken the correct decision. We therefore have procedures in place that enable an interested party to ask for one of our decisions to be reviewed. These are set out on our website at http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/tcc/reviewproc.asp.

The review, undertaken by a senior Commission officer, will decide whether our final decision is the right one in the sense that it is a proper exercise of our powers and consistent with our statutory objectives. We also check that the reasons for our decisions have been adequately expressed.

If a customer is not satisfied with our final decision they may be able to appeal or make an application for review to the Charity Tribunal. This is an independent body set up under the Charities Act 2006 to hear appeals against our decisions or applications for review of our decisions. It is part of the Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It provides an independent route of appeal for charities which have exhausted our own decision review process. Further information is available from its website at www.charity. tribunals.gov.uk.

For those decisions that cannot be appealed to the Charity Tribunal, appellants can seek a review of the decision through the Commission's Outcome Review Panel procedures or, of course, through judicial review. For standard of service issues, the Commission has established complaints procedures. If, having been through these procedures the complainant remains dissatisfied, complainants have further recourse through the Commission's Independent Complaints Reviewer and thereafter the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman (further details on all of the above can be found at http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/tcc/compproc. asp).

I hope this is helpful.

Children: ContactPoint

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 4 June (WA 102), whether parents ordinarily resident in England and with a home telephone number will be required to register mobile telephone numbers on the ContactPoint database. [HL4250]

There is no requirement for parents to register any information (including mobile telephone numbers) directly with ContactPoint.

If a parent has provided their mobile telephone number to one of ContactPoint's national or local data sources, such as a school, general practitioner or the Department for Work and Pensions then that organisation is required to supply that information to ContactPoint.

Cyprus: Property

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 8 June (WA 117), whether they will takes steps to close down the United Kingdom offices of Cypriot companies selling property and ban the promotion of Cyprus property at exhibitions of overseas property held in the United Kingdom; and what further steps they will take to protect United Kingdom citizens from individuals who retain title deeds after properties in Cyprus have been bought. [HL4263]

We will not take any steps to close down the UK offices of Cypriot companies selling property or ban the promotion of Cyprus property at exhibitions of overseas property held in the UK unless we receive evidence of illegal behaviour. Our high commission in Nicosia continues to support the work of the Cyprus Property Action Group.

Driving: Motorcycling Test

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how rural areas will be served by 65 centres for motorcycle testing laid down by the Driving Standards Agency; and when all 65 will be operational. [HL4517]

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) balances offering a satisfactory level of service to candidates in rural as well as urban areas with the resulting costs. The introduction of a modular test and the use of occasional sites have allowed DSA to provide practical motorcycle tests from more service points. This has benefited candidates in rural areas.

The practical motorcycle test is now delivered in two modules. Module 1 (the specified manoeuvres test) can be taken at 66 testing facilities and module 2 (the general on-road ride) is offered at 105 permanent locations and 30 occasional centres mainly in rural Scotland. As a consequence, 88 per cent of module 1 candidates and 97 per cent of module 2 candidates can reach a test centre within 45 minutes or 20 miles, which are our service criteria.

DSA is currently at various stages of acquisition and construction of multi purpose test centres at 16 locations and it is likely to take up to a further two years before all are operational.

Education: Home Schooling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as required by the Code of Practice on Consultation, they have published an impact assessment to accompany the “Registration and Monitoring Proposals” consultation following Mr Badman's report on Elective Home Education; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House. [HL4287]

An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development. We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch. If we decide to proceed with legislation we will publish an impact assessment and will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Education: Land-based Diploma

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jane Kennedy, on 24 February (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 559–60W), which councils will not offer the diploma in environmental and land-based studies in each of the academic years from 2009 to 2012. [HL4055]

Local areas apply through the Gateway process to be approved to deliver specific lines. By 2013, every local area will be responsible for making sure that all diploma lines are accessible to their young people, so we anticipate that coverage and availability of all diploma lines will increase over time. The tables below show which local authorities will not be offering the diploma in environmental and land-based studies in 2009 and 2010. This information is subject to change as additional areas may be approved to deliver in 2010. We do not yet have information for 2011 and 2012 delivery.

Local Authorities not offering ELBS in 2009

Barking and Dagenham

Leicestershire

Barnet

Lewisham

Bath and Ne Somerset

Luton

Bedford Borough

Manchester

Bexley

Merton

Birmingham

Middlesbrough

Blackburn With Darwen

Milton Keynes

Blackpool

Newcastle Upon Tyne

Bolton

Newham

Bournemouth

North Lincolnshire

Bracknell Forest

North Somerset

Brent

North Tyneside

Bromley

Nottinghamshire

Buckinghamshire

Oldham

Bury

Oxfordshire

Calderdale

Poole

Camden

Portsmouth

Central Bedfordshire

Reading

Cheshire West And Chester

Redbridge

City of Bristol

Redcar And Cleveland

City of Derby

Richmond Upon Thames

City of Nottingham

Rochdale

City of Peterborough

Rutland

Corporation of London

Salford

Coventry

Sandwell

Croydon

Sefton

Darlington

Slough

Derbyshire

Solihull

Dudley

Somerset

Durham

South Tyneside

Ealing

Southampton

Enfield

Southend-on-Sea

Gateshead

Southwark

Gloucestershire

St Helens

Greenwich

Staffordshire

Hackney

Stockport

Halton

Stockton on Tees

Hammersmith and Fulham

Stoke on Trent

Haringey

Sutton

Harrow

Swindon

Hartlepool

Tameside

Havering

Thurrock

Herefordshire

Trafford

Hertfordshire

Wakefield

Hillingdon

Walsall

Hounslow

Waltham Forest

Isle of Wight

Wandsworth

Isles of Scilly

Warrington

Kensington and Chelsea

Warwickshire

Kingston Upon Hull

West Berkshire

Kingston Upon Thames

Westminster

Kirklees

Wiltshire

Knowsley

Windsor and Maidenhead

Lambeth

Wirral

Leeds

Wokingham

Wrekin

Local Authorities not offering ELBS in 2010

Barking and Dagenham

Lambeth

Barnet

Lewisham

Bath and Ne Somerset

Luton

Bexley

Manchester

Birmingham

Merton

Bournemouth

Milton Keynes

Bracknell Forest

North Lincolnshire

Brent

North Tyneside

Buckinghamshire

Nottinghamshire

Bury

Oldham

Calderdale

Poole

Camden

Portsmouth

Central Bedfordshire

Reading

Cheshire West and Chester

Redbridge

City of Bristol

Richmond Upon Thames

City of Peterborough

Rochdale

Corporation of London

Rutland

Croydon

Salford

Darlington

Sandwell

Ealing

Sefton

Gateshead

Slough

Greenwich

South Tyneside

Hackney

Southampton

Halton

Southend-on-Sea

Hammersmith and Fulham

Southwark

Haringey

Stockport

Harrow

Stockton on Tees

Hartlepool

Sutton

Havering

Swindon

Herefordshire

Tameside

Hillingdon

Trafford

Hounslow

Wakefield

Isles of Scilly

Walsall

Kensington and Chelsea

Wandsworth

Kingston Upon Hull

Warrington

Kingston Upon Thames

West Berkshire

Kirklees

Westminster

Knowsley

Wokingham

Elections: European Parliament

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the results of the recent European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom, they will ask Parliament to repeal the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 and introduce a bill to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. [HL4318]

The UK decides on the British national interest through our Parliament, as has been the case with every previous EU amending treaty.

We continue to believe that the Lisbon treaty is a good deal for the UK and for Europe. Parliament approved the legislation to implement the treaty after 25 days of detailed debate. Each House voted in favour at every stage of those debates.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding has been provided since the beginning of 2008 towards research projects focused on (a) adult stem cells, (b) umbilical cord or cord blood stem cells, (c) embryonic stem cells, and (d) induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. [HL4219]

In 2007-08 the Government provided over £60 million of public funding for stem cell research. £24.7 million of this expenditure focused on research relating to adult stem cells and £14.7 million on embryonic stem cells. A breakdown relating to research involving umbilical cord cells and blood, and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells is not available.

Below is a breakdown of expenditure, by organisation:

2007-08

Adult

Embryonic

Adult/Embryonic

Medical Research Council

£15.7 million

£9.9 million

n/a*

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council**

£5.0 million

£3.5 million

£2.3 million

Technology Strategy Board

£2.0 million

£0.9 million

Department of Health***

£2.0 million

£0.4 million

* The MRC currently provides a breakdown on spend relating to research involving stem cells against the categories of adult and embryonic cells only.

** Total BBSRC spend on stem cell research was approximately £13 million in 2007-08, with the balance of funding accounted for by: generic research where the cell type is not defined. Of the research on adult stem cells, a spend of £665,000 2007-08 related to research on induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

*** National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre expenditure. Details of expenditure on stem cell research from the transitional research and development allocations made in 2007-08 to National Health Service organisations is not available.

Confirmed figures are not yet available for 2008-09.

In April 2008 the MRC and BBSRC jointly committed £650,000 to 13 new awards to support the emergence of iPS technology in the UK and provide a platform for future work in this area.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (HL 172) regarding the separation between researchers and those carrying out a woman's infertility treatment, how different centres have proposed to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that aspects of the clinical and research roles should be separated; and what percentages of those roles are separated in terms of associated work hours or labour costs.[HL4333]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (HL 172), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is aware of any centres where the person responsible for a research licence or the nominal licensee would be permitted to give medication to or collect eggs from patients undergoing fertility treatment at the same centre; and, if so, at which centres; and to what extent that takes place. [HL4334]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (HL 172), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is aware of any centres where the clinician seen by a patient is directly engaged in separately licensed research at the same centre with the patient's gametes or embryos; and, if so, at which centres; and to what extent that takes place. [HL4335]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (HL 172), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is aware of any centres where personnel responsible for laboratory services as part of a patient's fertility treatment are directly engaged in research with the same patient's gametes or embryos, insofar as that does not constitute routine clinical tests; and, if so, at which centres; and to what extent that takes place. [HL4336]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that where donated gametes are used for the purpose of research, the authority's code of practice requires the treatment centre to ensure that aspects of the clinical and research roles are separated, so that individuals involved in advising patients regarding clinical decisions about their licensed treatment are not involved in the research project to which patients are considering donating embryos. The HFEA also advised that while it is for individual centres to decide exactly how they meet these requirements, HFEA's inspectors ensure compliance by discussing these requirements with centre staff.

The HFEA does not hold information in relation to work hours or labour costs. Nor does it hold similar detailed information on the day to day activities of clinical and laboratory staff in the delivery of services.

Employment Tribunals Act 1996

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Employment Tribunals Act 1996 empowers the Secretary of State to make regulations or procedure rules to enable equal pay claims to be made in representative proceedings in employment tribunals. [HL4300]

Section 7 of the Employment Tribunals Act 1996 contains the power to make regulations or procedure rules to enable equal pay claims to be made in representative proceedings in employment tribunals.

Energy Sector: Recruitment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the recent report by the Sector Skills Council Energy and Utility Skills Diversity in the Energy and Utility Sector, what steps they are taking to identify incentives and barriers to the recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce. [HL4341]

The Government recognise that improving diversity is a key strategic objective for employers, who are driving this through the sector skills councils and their skills academies. Progress so far has been mixed, with professional roles, such as engineers, having an increasing diversity in both gender and ethnicity, which is beginning to be reflected in more senior posts. Apprenticeships, however, are still male dominated.

Sector attractiveness strategies are being developed to overcome the negative impressions that many young people have about working in the energy industries and to improve the number of applicants. These will provide the key mechanism by which the industry will sell itself to potential applicants and increase the diversity of the applicant pool.

Energy: Oil and Gas

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the European Commission's proposal for a directive obliging member states to maintain minimum stocks of crude oil or petroleum or both; what the cost of implementing the directive would be; and what the effect of the directive would be on oil and petroleum product prices. [HL4405]

This is not a new obligation as the UK is already required by an existing EU directive and through its membership of the International Energy Agency to hold emergency oil stocks for use in oil supply disruptions. We support the new directive as it aligns the EU and IEA systems while maintaining member states' flexibility to design and operate systems best suited to their individual national needs. There will be no additional costs to implement the revised directive since we expect any administrative costs to be absorbed within the existing resources for managing the UK's current oil stocking system. There should be no impact on prices as a result of implementation of the revised directive.

Equality Bill

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their reasons for excluding aircraft from clause 28 of the Equalities Bill. [HL4099]

Aviation is not excluded from the Equality Bill. Clause 27, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against harass or victimise a person because of a protected characteristic when providing services, protects someone when they are requesting a service and when they are being provided with a service. That applies to aviation. Schedule 3, Part 7 provides an exception to Clause 27 for services in connection with air transport, but it relates only to disability, where there is a separate European regulation in place. EU Regulation 1107/2006 made it unlawful for airlines to refuse to carry disabled and less mobile passengers; and airlines have to give assistance to all people of reduced mobility. The UK fully supports these principles. Regulation 1107 is directly applicable in UK law and is enforced by SI 2007/1895.

There is no need to include aviation in Clause 28 for the reasons stated above.

Government Departments: Budgets

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the budget of the National Security Secretariat for 2008–09; what it is for 2009–10; and what is the planned budget for 2010–11. [HL4288]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the budget of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat for 2008–09; what it is for 2009–10; and what is the planned budget for 2010–11. [HL4289]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the budget of the Directorate of Security and Intelligence for 2008–09; what it is for 2009–10; and what is the planned budget for 2010–11. [HL4290]

The budget for the National Security Secretariat in 2008-09 was £2,786,000; the budget for 2009-10 is £3,573,000.

The budget for the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in 2008-09 was £10,544,000; the budget for 2009-10 is £9,746,750. Both figures include funding for the Emergency Planning College.

The budget for the Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DSI) in 2008-09 was £22,097,000, which included funding for the Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. In addition DSI is responsible for £24.6 million of expenditure on behalf of a number of departments for services provided by BBC Monitoring.

The budget for the Directorate of Security and Intelligence in 2009-10 is £7,343,250. In addition DSI is responsible for £24.6 million of expenditure on behalf of a number of departments for services provided by BBC Monitoring.

The planned Cabinet Office budget for 2010-11 is published in the Cabinet Office annual report and accounts 2007-08. This has not yet been delegated to Cabinet Office directorates.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the forecast expenditure by the Natural Hazards Team on work to protect critical infrastructure in (a) 2009–10, and (b) 2010–11. [HL4291]

The Natural Hazards Team is allocated a budget of £400,000 per annum for 2009-10 and 2010-11 to cover its operational costs. This excludes the costs of any measures to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure to natural hazards which may be agreed as part of the programme of work.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to incorporate into clinical practice the treatment guidelines presented in “UK guidelines for the systemic treatment of renal cell carcinoma” published in the British Journal of Hospital Medicine (May 2009, vol. 70, no. 5). [HL4449]

There are currently no plans to incorporate these guidelines.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently issued guidance on the use of sunitinib for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. NICE is also currently appraising bevacizumab, sorafenib, temsirolimus, everolimus and pazopanib for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma.

NICE has also published two pieces of interventional procedures guidance on renal cancer, as well as its 2002 Improving Outcomes in Urological Cancers guidance, which addressed services and treatments for kidney cancer patients.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 3 June (WA 92), what action Lord Darzi of Denham has taken since his assurance on 28 April (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 143) that he as a Minister would assist in securing a debate on the response to the Archer report; whether he asked or will ask for fulfilment of his assurance to be considered by the business managers and usual channels; and when the debate will take place. [HL4191]

Further to my previous Answer to you on this matter on 3 June, the department has contacted the Whips’ Office about a further debate on the Government's response to the Archer report. A decision on whether to hold such a debate remains a matter for the House business managers.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (WA 179), whether they will now review the conditions under which the widow of a patient infected by contaminated NHS blood products becomes eligible for financial assistance. [HL4354]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 June (WA 198), what meetings took place between officials at the Department of Health and the Macfarlane Trust to retrieve and record the correct data to ascertain the average levels of disbursements paid to infected beneficiaries prior to the publication of the ministerial response on 20 May to the report of the Independent Public Inquiry headed by Lord Archer of Sandwell; and what records of such meetings were kept. [HL4450]

Departmental officials did not meet the Macfarlane Trust to discuss financial or other details of the government response to Lord Archer’s report, prior to the publication of that response.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 June (WA 198), whether officials in the Department of Health suggested to the Association of British Insurers that the association hold meetings with officers of the Macfarlane Trust. [HL4453]

The department has not suggested to the Association of British Insurers that it should hold meetings with the MacFarlane Trust. The association is free to meet the trust if it chooses.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 June (WA 198), why the ministerial response on 20 May to the report of the Independent Public Inquiry headed by Lord Archer of Sandwell stated that “the increased payments we are making available will help people infected with HIV to meet higher insurance premiums they may face” when officials were advised by the Association of British Insurers that it was not possible to calculate the total cost of life insurance provision for patients with HIV or hepatitis C or both by contaminated blood products as the premiums would vary for each individual and would be dependent on their particular circumstances. [HL4454]

As stated in the Government's response to the Archer report, we will be increasing the amount of financial relief to those infected with human immunodeficiency virus to £12,800 per annum. The Government's response did not state that these heightened levels of financial assistance would be sufficient to meet insurance premiums, but that individuals will be able to use this money to help meet their insurance premiums, should they so choose.

Health: Skin

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the funding of the SunSmart campaign. [HL4401]

SunSmart, the national skin cancer prevention and sun protection campaign, is run by Cancer Research UK on behalf of the United Kingdom health departments which each contribute funding to the campaign. The Department of Health, England, currently provides £115,000 for 2009-10 under the provisions of Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968.

The Cancer Reform Strategy also made commitments to increase the funding available for skin awareness programmes and has provided additional money in 2008-09 and 2009-10 for national and local skin cancer initiatives.

Internet: Broadband

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their announcement that broadband internet would be provided throughout the United Kingdom is prompted by the European Commission's policy to provide such a service throughout the European Union; and whether any of the proposed £6 annual tax on all land line telephone accounts will be used to finance a European Union-wide system. [HL4555]

The Government's announcement of a universal service commitment for broadband was the result of analysis that shows that broadband is fast becoming as essential as a utility and that it is important for all in the UK to be able to benefit from the advantages that broadband access can bring. We have worked hard in Europe to secure changes to the telecoms regulation framework that allow for the definition of universal service to encompass broadband. The proposed £6 annual levy on all fixed telephone lines is intended to provide a Next Generation Fund for the delivery of next generation, truly high speed, broadband to the final third of the UK that the market will not deliver to otherwise, and will not be used to finance European Union-wide system.

Iran

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many instances the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom did not receive a reply from the Government of Iran concerning allegations of human rights violations within her mandate, as documented in her most recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Council; what means are available to the Human Rights Council to persuade governments to give timely responses to matters submitted to them by the special procedures; and whether they will propose that a summary be published before meetings of the Human Rights Council of allegations to which there had been no response. [HL4302]

UN member states are not privy to correspondence between individual member states and the UN Human Rights Council's special procedures. However, in an addendum to her report to the 10th session of the Human Rights Council, the special rapporteur details her correspondence with Iran including where she has and has not received replies to her concerns raised on various cases. This addendum can be found on the Human Rights Council website at http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G09/109/80/PDF/G0910980.pdf?OpenElement.

The UK has a standing invitation to UN special procedures, strongly believes that countries must co-operate with them for them to be able to work effectively, and we encourage co-operation whenever we can. The council has no means beyond such encouragement to persuade Governments to provide timely responses. As with the afore mentioned addendum, points raised by special procedures are usually covered in their regular reports.

Israel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were (a) the total value of trade between Israel and the United Kingdom, and (b) the total value of exports from the United Kingdom to Israel, over the past three years. [HL4580]

The data requested are shown in the following table:

£ million

UK exports of goods to Israel

UK exports of services to Israel

UK imports of goods from Israel

UK imports of services from Israel

2006

1308

447

965

297

2007

1257

475

1045

305

2008

1337

1153

Sources: ONS monthly review of external trade statistics and UK Balance of Payments Pink Book

Geographical estimates of trade in services in 2008 are expected to be available at the end of July.

Lisbon Treaty

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether under Article 46A of the Lisbon treaty the European Union will have the power to make international treaties binding on its member states; and, if so, whether that will affect the royal prerogative in respect of making treaties and remove the necessity for ratification of them by Parliament. [HL4319]

The Lisbon treaty would insert a new Article 46A into the Treaty on European Union (Article 47 in the consolidated version of the treaty) which provides that “the Union shall have legal personality”. Articles 216-219 of the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 2(173) of the Lisbon Treaty) sets out the legal basis and procedures that would apply for negotiation and conclusion of international agreements between the Union and third countries or international organisations. There is no substantive change to the existing position. The European Community presently enters into international agreements within Community competence under the current Treaty establishing the European Community. The Treaty on European Union also provides for the conclusion of international agreements in Articles 24 and 38. Those agreements are given effect through legislation where that is needed to implement them and they create obligations at the EU level for the member states in those areas of competence.

In the same way such agreements concluded by the Union within its competences under the Treaty on European Union, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union would be implemented through legislation where necessary and would create obligations for the member states at the Union level. Council decisions on the conclusion of agreements are currently subject to parliamentary scrutiny and that would continue to be the case under the treaties as amended by the Lisbon treaty.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to amend the remit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. [HL4474]

Media: Salaries

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider introducing legislation to provide for the disclosure of newspaper owners', managers' and journalists' salaries and emoluments. [HL4376]

Companies are already obliged to lodge their annual financial accounts with Companies House and we have no intention to add unnecessarily to the existing legislative burden. The noble Lord will be aware that all new legislation must be preceded by an impact test so if he has any evidence that suggests that the benefits of further legislation would indeed outweigh the disadvantages, then we would be pleased to consider it.

Local newspapers are currently facing a particularly difficult time as they make the structural changes that are necessary if they are to survive in a rapidly changing sector. The present economic climate, coupled with changes to the way that people choose to access news and other information, have placed the print media sector under unprecedented strain. Structural changes will inevitably involve a review of current working patterns, which, among other things, will often lead to a reduction in the overall numbers employed. Such circumstances require proprietors to make some difficult commercial decisions and it would not be appropriate for government to intervene directly in this process. Nevertheless, we keenly understand the hardship caused by job losses and we recognise the need to work with the industry to alleviate this distress.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 June (WA 202), whether they will consider funding any organisation furthering the advice of the two Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioners who dissented from its report on a possible bill of rights for Northern Ireland; and whether the concept of parity of esteem applies to such external funding. [HL4478]

My Answer of 16 June (Official Report, col. WA 202) referred to a request from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to receive funding from an external organisation for projects relating to a Bill of Rights. The Government have no plans to provide funding to any external organisation in this respect.

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Crawley on 15 June (WA 186), what are the relevant passages of the Cabinet Office's Civil Superannuation Resources Accounts which cover the percentage of civil servants paying 1.5 per cent or 3.5 per cent of their pensionable earnings towards their pensions. [HL4551]

Details of the percentage employee contributions payable and the approximate split of active membership between the sections of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme are contained in the Report of the Actuary and Report of the Manager in the Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation Resource Accounts. Copies of the resource accounts for the years up to and including 2007-08 can be found in the Library.

Petitions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to reinstate the No. 10 Downing Street online petition function once the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill becomes law. [HL2778]

The Downing Street e-petition system has been operating continually since November 2007 and will be unaffected by the passing of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill.

Prisoners: Disabilities

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the Bradley review into mental health, they will evaluate progress with, and consider making changes to, the abbreviated two-hour version of the one-day learning disability awareness training course for inclusion in prison officer entry level training, as outlined in the Ministry of Justice's Disability, Equality Scheme 2008–2011. [HL4374]

Lord Bradley’s review recommends that awareness training on mental health and learning disabilities must be available for all prison officers.

Currently, newly recruited officers receive training in caring for vulnerable individuals in custody. Options regarding the inclusion of learning disability awareness in new entrant prison officer training are currently under discussion with all relevant stakeholders.

In addition, all Bradley review recommendations will be taken forward as part of the remit of the newly established National Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board which meets for the first time on 24 June 2009 and which will publish a national delivery plan in October this year.

Prisons

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in which prisons is there no access to water or sanitation in the cells; and in respect of how many prisoners. [HL4442]

In 1996 Ministers announced that “slopping out” had ended. All prisoners in normal accommodation have had access to sanitation since then in one of four ways:

integral sanitation: a toilet and wash basin in a cell or in a separate annex;

open access: in open conditions prisoners can leave their rooms and use central toilet facilities;

electronic unlocking: cell doors are opened electronically to allow prisoners access to toilet facilities; and

manual unlocking: staff are deployed to unlock cells and allow prisoners access to toilet facilities.

A further programme of in-cell sanitation for about 400 cells was carried out in 2001-03 to provide integral sanitation in prison hospital and segregation cells.

As at March 2009 only 2,117 places do not have in-cell sanitation or open access to toilet facilities. These are located in the following prisons and have electronic unlocking:

Albany;

Blundeston;

Bullwood Hall;

Bristol;

Brockhill;

Coldingley;

Gloucester;

Grendon;

Long Lartin; and

Portland.

No prisons operate a manual unlocking system.

Prisons: HMP Caernarvon

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the forecast cost of the proposed prison in Caernarvon; when the prison will be complete; and how many prisoners will be housed in the proposed prison. [HL4358]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many jobs they forecast the building of the new prison in Caernarvon will create in the construction and related industries. [HL4359]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what stimulus they forecast the building of the prison in Caernarvon will give to the surrounding economy. [HL4360]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisons officers will be employed in the prison proposed for Caernarvon. [HL4361]

Proceeding with prison development on the Caernarvon site depends on the outcome of ongoing negotiations with the owner, confirmation that contamination on the site will not impede a prison development, and a successful application for outline planning permission.

No final decisions have been made on the size of the prison or the operational date. However, it is envisaged that the site could be developed to provide between 600 and 900 prison places.

The precise numbers of jobs created through construction and operation vary from prison to prison according to the size and type of prison. Previous studies have shown that a prison of 800 places will, on average, generate an income of over £7 million per year in the local economy and provide around 400 full-time jobs in operation, 250 from within the local area.

Questions for Written Answer

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 17 June (WA 216), how many times this session the Northern Ireland Office has not applied the presumption concerning the provision of information in Written Answers. [HL4445]

Out of the 260 Lords Questions answered up to 15 June, the Northern Ireland Office referred to websites on 15 occasions. Ten of these were answered substantively, but in order to provide noble Lords with additional information on the subject, the Answers included links to websites where further information could be found.

A further two adhered to the protocol outlined in my Answer of 17 June by providing weblinks because the information requested could have been provided in the answer only at disproportionate cost.

For the remaining three Answers, the information requested was held by bodies that are independent of the Northern Ireland Office: in two cases the Chief Electoral Officer and in the third case a committee of the United Nations. It was therefore judged more appropriate to refer to the website of those bodies so that noble Lords had access to those organisations’ own statements on the matters in question rather than an interpretation of these statements by government Ministers.

Railways: Diesel Vehicles

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 14 May (WA 239), when the announcement will be made on the placing of the order for the 202 new diesel train carriages. [HL4578]

The procurement process for new diesel multiple unit vehicles is still under way and an announcement will be made later this year.

Shipping: Ferry Operators

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action the Maritime and Coastguard Agency takes if a passenger ship is found to be operating without a valid passenger certificate. [HL4475]

Further to my Answer of 17 June (Official Report, cols. WA 216-7), for a passenger ship to operate in UK waters it must have a valid passenger certificate or passenger safety certificate. If a passenger ship is allegedly operating without a valid certificate, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will investigate. Each case is then considered on its individual merits and suitable enforcement action is taken, which may when appropriate include prosecution.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Rathlin Island ferry MV “CANNA” held a valid operating passenger certificate between 1 September and 11 September 2008; and, if not, when the Maritime and Coastguard Agency became aware of that. [HL4477]

The Rathlin Island ferry MV “CANNA” did not hold a valid passenger certificate between 1 September and 11 September 2008. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency became aware of this on 3 October 2008, while completing the annual survey.

Sir Alan Sugar

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the rules and codes relating to Ministers or special advisers will apply to the Enterprise Champion, Sir Alan Sugar. [HL4151]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Sir Alan Sugar will be required to place his commercial interests in trust while acting as Enterprise Champion. [HL4152]

The Enterprise Champion is appointed as an unpaid independent adviser to government and small businesses. He has disclosed his commercial interests in full to the Cabinet Office and has made arrangements for managing these interests for the duration of his appointment.

Smoking

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to ensure that people do not have to smoke tobacco passively in public places which are in the open. [HL4312]

There is no intention at this time to extend the smokefree law to any outdoor places. To make any non-enclosed place smokefree would require new regulations to be made; that would usually happen only after a process of public consultation. However, there will be a review of the smokefree legislation in 2010.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to extend legislation banning smoking in certain places to other areas. [HL4486]

We have given a commitment to review this legislation in 2010. At the moment there are no plans to extend the legislation.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 18 June (WA 232) concerning the cost of smoking-related illnesses to the National Health Service, what proposals they have to reduce that cost. [HL4487]

Over the past 10 years the Government's comprehensive programme to deal with tobacco has successfully reduced the prevalence of smoking from 28 per cent in 1998 to 21 per cent. in 2007. As a direct result of this success in reducing smoking prevalence there will over time be a reduction in real terms in the costs to the National Health Service. We will be publishing a new tobacco control strategy later this year with the aim of reducing prevalence further and thereby further reducing costs to the National Health Service.

Telephone Helplines

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many telephone calls (a) in the past 12 months, and (b) in the past three months, were made to (1) all Social Fund helplines, (2) all crisis loans lines, (3) all crisis loans initial claim lines, (4) all crisis loans living expenses lines, and (5) all crisis loans initial claim living expenses lines. [HL4285]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many telephone calls made to (a) all Social Fund helplines, (b) all crisis loans lines, (c) all crisis loans initial claim lines, (d) all crisis loans living expenses lines, and (e) all crisis loans initial claim living expenses lines, led to the caller speaking to a call-taker (1) in the past 12 months, and (2) in the past three months. [HL4286]

The information is not available in the requested format.

Calls made to the helplines are received into a queue and these are recorded as “calls offered”. At busy times, some calls may not reach the queue and will receive the busy tone; information on those calls is not available. Of those which are held in a queue, those calls which reach a member of staff are counted as “calls answered”.

All calls to crisis loan 0800 lines are for crisis loan living expenses claims. Other crisis loan applications for items such as new bedding or furniture are included within the 0845 Social Fund calls.

Calls to Social Fund 0845 lines include calls regarding all other elements of the Social Fund: budgeting loans; funeral payments; community care grants; and sure start maternity grants.

The following table shows the volume of calls made to both the 0800 crisis loan lines and to 0845 Social Fund lines between June 2008 and May 2009.

Calls to Crisis Loans (0800) lines

Calls Offered

Calls Answered

June 2008 to May 2009

4,356,080

4,017,709

Mar-09

247,955

179,927

Apr-09

275,350

188,760

May-09

242,042

165,768

Total

765,347

534,455

Calls to Social Fund (0845) lines

Calls Offered

Calls Answered

June 2008 to May 2009

2,927,692

2,572,262

Mar-09

542,603

470,690

Apr-09

471,792

420,474

May-09

488,579

436,920

Total

1,502,974

1,328,084

Source: Jobcentre Plus management information.

Transport: Vehicle Testing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 1 June (WA 60), what assessment they have made of whether the number of prohibition notices for heavy goods vehicles and trailers in 2007 and 2008 at Holyhead and Liverpool indicate that the sample rates are sufficient. [HL4521]

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) keeps prohibition rates under frequent review. The small decline in prohibition rates at Holyhead and on roadworthiness prohibitions at Liverpool in 2008-09 may indicate that VOSA operations are having a beneficial effect. However, the traffic prohibition rate at Liverpool continued to increase. We need longer term data in order to draw firmer conclusions. On the current information available I am content that the VOSA resources deployed at these ports are proportionate and appropriate.

UN: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 10 June (WA 154), which United Kingdom officials, and from which departments, were in the Ministry of Justice delegation to Geneva in May when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the combined fourth to fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; how many officials from devolved administrations were in the delegation; and what were the costs of the visit. [HL4309]

The UK delegation to Geneva for the UK examination by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights consisted of 21 officials from across Whitehall departments and the devolved Administrations. Of these, one official represented the Scottish Government and one official represented the Welsh Assembly Government.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights covers the full breadth of economic, social and cultural rights and includes provisions on areas such as employment, housing, healthcare, equality and non-discrimination, education and social security. These areas are the responsibility of a number of different government departments and, in relation to devolved or transferred matters, the devolved Administrations. The examination was over two days, with nine hours of examination by the committee.

The delegation comprised the following UK government officials:

Ministry of Justice: Constitution Director (Head of Delegation); Legal Director; four officials from the Human Rights Division; a press officer.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: the head of the Caribbean, Bermuda and Policy Team, and a desk officer from the Overseas Territories Directorate.

Home Office: Regional Director (North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, UK Border Agency); Senior Human Rights and Devolution Adviser.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Director (Labour Law and Dispute Resolution, Employment Relations Directorate).

Department for Work and Pensions: Deputy Director (Benefit Reform Division); Deputy Director (Area Initiatives and Communities, Welfare to Work).

Government Equalities Office: Assistant Director (Strategy Directorate).

Joint International Unit (Department for Children, School and Families and Department for Work and Pensions): Head of International Education Organisations and Strategies Team.

Department of Health: Human Rights Lead (Equality and Human Rights Group).

Department for Communities and Local Government: Specialist Adviser on Homelessness (Housing Delivery and Homelessness Directorate).

The UK delegation also included the following officials from the devolved Administrations:

Scottish Government: Head of EU and International Law Branch (Civil Law Division).

Welsh Assembly Government: Community Involvement Manager.

The total costs of the visit are calculated at £18,900. This includes the costs for travel, accommodation, conference facilities and subsistence costs.

Some of those costs are based on exchange rates which have varied since the UK examination on 12 and 13 May 2009.

Wine

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will work within the European Union to promote the production and marketing of wines containing 8 to 13 per cent alcohol. [HL4530]

In the recent negotiation of the implementing rules for the new EU wine regime, the UK argued strongly that EU wine makers should have the flexibility to produce wine with a lower alcohol content. These negotiations concluded on 19 June and I am pleased that from 1 August 2009 the new rules will allow the use of new techniques to reduce the alcohol content of wine by up to 2 per cent, thus enabling EU wine makers to respond to consumer demand for reduced alcohol wine.